Idyllwild Water District residents will have a choice of five candidates for the three director seats up for election in the August mail-in ballot election. Running for re-election are Board President Jim Billman and directors Warren Monroe and Dean Lattin, who is in his first election. The two challengers are Steven Kunkle and June Rockwell.

Voted ballots must be received by election officials no later than the close of the polls on election day or be postmarked on or before election day, Aug. 25, and received no later than three days after election day to be counted.

Before August the Town Crier will interview each candidate. On Wednesday, Aug. 5,. the Town Crier will hold a candidates forum for IWD voters. The forum will be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Idyllwild Nature Center.

The first candidate interview is with June Rockwell. Interviews with the other four candidates will appear in the July 23 and July 30 issues of the Town Crier.

June Rockwell, candidate for Idyllwild Water District board. Photo by J.P. Crumrine
June Rockwell, candidate for Idyllwild Water District board.
Photo by J.P. Crumrine

Rockwell is from San Diego and spent many vacations in Idyllwild until she moved here about 15 years ago with her daughter, who attended Idyllwild School.

Rockwell operates her own business, keeping books for both Jo’An’s and Idyllwild Property Management.

TC: What will you contribute to the board?
If elected, she believes she will bring a greater balance and more openness to the IWD board meetings.

“I’ll be more open and listen to the community and encourage more discussion of issues,” she affirmed. She feels the current board is, unfortunately, aloof from the public and its concerns. Her priority would be to enable and serve the community.

As an example of her view of the board’s attitude toward IWD customers and her differences, Rockwell pointed to the 12-percent water rate increase for 2013-14, the reduction in the gallons provided before charges and the sewer rate increase this fall. While raising customers’ costs, IWD directors rewarded themselves in the fall of 2013 with a decision to raise their own compensation — from $50 to $100 for attending the meetings, board or committee.

“I won’t take the money. It’s appalling,” she said defiantly. “I’ll donate it to families who can’t pay their water bill.”

Rather than friendly notes on the bills, Rockwell would encourage IWD to identify agenda items so the public would know what the board will consider at meetings.

Not enough people are involved, she argued and included herself until she began attending meetings this past year. “It opened my eyes,” she stated.

On the board, Rockwell will urge that water policies be better written and explained. She feels from experience that several policies are not well-enough defined and would be improved and better understood with more structure.

TC: What is your view on “will-serve” letters during stages 2 and 3? Should new development be curtailed?
Referring to the recent debate over the issuance of “will-serve” letters for lots without meters, she argued that the district ought to say what its water reserves are before shutting down new construction.

“How can we know the need, without knowing the current capacity? The policy needs clarification,” she said. “There are too many loopholes. Policies are too general and not clear.”

The board owed the public a valid reason, when asked about curtailing “will-serve” letters, she said, “Not just sit behind a table and say, ‘No!’”

TC: How do you assess the district’s infrastructure?
If IWD is in Stage 2 water conservation and regularly warns of an impending move to Stage 3, to increase water supply, the district either has to conserve more or find new water sources, she argued.

“It’s been nearly two years since there was water in Foster Lake,” Rockwell stressed. Then she raised questions about the lack of drilling for new wells during this dry period. “Why is the budget so low for that?” she asked. “From what I saw, there is no money for drilling wells. That’s a red flag!

“Well levels always seem to be going down. Where are they truly at?”

She also pointed out that, for years, IWD has had no continuing or current program for regularly replacing pipeline throughout the district.